Boeing has teamed up with engineering firm Oerlikon to develop new standardized materials and processes for metal-based additive manufacturing.
“This agreement is an important step toward fully unlocking the value of powder bed titanium additive manufacturing for the aerospace industry,” said Leo Christodoulou, Boeing Chief Technologist. “Boeing and Oerlikon will work together to standardize additive manufacturing operations from powder management to finished product and thus enable the development of a wide range of safe, reliable and cost-effective structural titanium aerospace components.”
Boeing has been working in the additive manufacturing space for more than two decades, and the company says it has roughly 50,000 3D-printed parts currently installed on commercial, space and defense vehicles. Its 787 Dreamliner includes the first FAA-qualified 3D-printed structural titanium part in commercial aviation.
The use of printed parts on the Dreamliner is expected to save millions in production costs for each plane. Boeing also launched an Additive Manufacturing division last year.
“This program will drive the faster adoption of additive manufacturing in the rapidly growing aerospace, space and defense markets,” said Dr. Roland Fischer, CEO Oerlikon Group. “Working together with Boeing will define the path in producing airworthy additive manufacturing components for serial manufacturing. We see collaboration as a key enabler to unlocking the value that additive manufacturing can bring to aircraft platforms and look forward to partnering with the largest and most respected aerospace company in the world.”
Boeing and Oerlikon will use the data from the five-year partnership to support the qualification of additive manufacturing suppliers for metallic components. According to the companies, the research will initially focus on industrializing titanium powder bed fusion processes and ensuring that the resultant parts meet the flight requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense.
Oerlikon also recently announced a new additive manufacturing R&D facility in Charlotte, NC. The company is expected to invest roughly $55.26 million in the facility.